Henry Catchpole: Driving Alpine’s hardcore A110 R

by Stefan Lombard
7 September 2023

The Alpine A110 R is billed as the ultimate version of the featherweight French sports car. But after driving it, Henry Catchpole began wondering what the R in its name might stand for. After pondering a few possibilities, he finally hit upon the answer, which doesn’t lie with the Alpine F1 team as you might expect but rather with the greatest hot hatch of all time.

A quick look at the Alpine A110 R’s numbers could also have you questioning why it commands such a price premium over the original and S variants of the A110; It has no more power than the A110 S and the weight savings are a relatively minimal 34kg. But dig a little deeper and it’s clear why the R very much deserves its top billing.

For a start, the weight saving has been hard-won and strategic. For example, the standard buckets were an already trim 13.1kg each, but the R has managed to shave another 2.5kg off that figure. The carbon fibre wheels by Duqueine might give you sleepless nights if you have to park next to high kerbs on a frequent basis, but they do save an impressive 12.5kg of unsprung, rotating mass. This means that the unchanged 296bhp and 251lb-ft has just 1082kg to push around.

Combined with Michelin Cup 2 tyres, this sees the 0–62mph time drop to just 3.9sec, so the R is no slouch in a straight line. However, it’s in the corners where it comes alive: New springs from Eibach, 20-way adjustable dampers from ZF, and bump stops by BASF all combine to create magic in the ride and handling department.

How would you spec yours?

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